4 Feb 2017

Soldier shoots machete-wielding attacker at Louvre

7:37 am on 4 February 2017

A French soldier shot and wounded a man armed with machetes and carrying two bags on his back as he tried to enter the Louvre in Paris in what the government said appeared to have been a terrorist attack.

Police secure the area in front of the Louvre, 3 February 2017

Police secure the area in front of the Louvre. Photo: AFP / Julien Mattia / NurPhoto

The man, who tried to gain entry to the Louvre's shopping centre, was shot in the abdomen and seriously injured.

Reports say he is Egyptian, 29, and arrived in France last month. Police have not released his identity.

President Francois Hollande said the situation was under control but the "threat of terrorism is here to stay".

The incident began at 10am local time in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre at stairs leading to an entrance to the museum itself.

A patrol of four soldiers are reported to have tried to subdue the assailant using non-lethal force after he rushed at them.

When this failed and after one soldier was injured, five shots were fired. The suspected attacker was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

An image circulating in French media, said to have been taken by a tour guide, shows what is believed to be the suspect lying at the foot of the stairs, surrounded by armed soldiers.

Two rucksacks belonging to the suspect, who shouted "God is greatest" in Arabic, have been inspected but no explosives were found.

Le Figaro newspaper reports that the suspect is an Egyptian who entered France on 26 January from Dubai. Investigators are still reportedly trying to establish his identity.

More than 1000 visitors, including many young children, were kept for an hour inside the Louvre before being released. The museum, is home to numerous celebrated art works, including the Mona Lisa, was due to reopen on Saturday.

Paris has been gradually recovering from a dip in foreign tourism caused by the attacks.

More than 230 people have died in France in the past two years at the hands of attackers allied to the militant Islamist group Islamic State.

A total of 130 people were killed in Paris in the November 2015 attacks. In another attack in the southern city of Nice in July last year a Tunisian deliberately drove a truck into a crowd on the seafront killing 86 people.

Police secure the area in front of the Louvre.

Photo: AFP / Julien Mattia / NurPhoto

- BBC / Reuters